The survival assurance center for endemic frogs in Andasibe, Madagascar has been operational for several years now. Working mostly with the same team members as in the beginning, we now take care of 15 frog species, and more will likely enter our biosecure facility in the future. The biggest recent achievement in this regard was the breeding of half a dozen species that had not reproduced in captivity before – neither in Madagascar, nor in other institutions overseas.  These species come from two different families with totally different lifestyles and breeding modes (phytotelm breeders and direct developers for example, to name the most remarkable ones). The majority of Malagasy species are rather miniature in size, and so some of the metamorphosed offspring are incredibly small, which in turn creates some practical impediments: feeding 3mm long frogs having the dimensions of a bread crumb is not the easiest of all tasks. However, one species has already been bred into the second generation and others will follow. This raises hope that more Malagasy species can principally reproduce in captivity if basic requirements are met, a finding that is a true gleam of hope in the rather dull actual development of conservation in this unique but extremely poor country. Furthermore, the focal species of our breeding efforts, the Golden Mantella, has been successfully reintroduced at ephemeral ponds for the first time in 2017. We delivered more than 1000 captive bred specimens to our partner institutions who transported them to restored sites within their natural range.

Outreach is also a vital part of our activities, and to present the local diversity, which encompasses more than 100 species, the visitor’s center will receive some larger terrariums. Here, a wide audience can observe some of those species that are normally too hidden to be easily detected. Work has not become less though, opportunities are coming as well, so we thank all donors, partners and overseas institutions for their support which enables us to be in the front line of practical frog conservation in Madagascar!

By Sebastian Wolf (director of the captive Mantella program in Andasibe, Madagascar)

Photo: The locally endemic microhylid Plethodontohyla mihanika; newly metamorphosed froglets are less than 4 millimeters in length. Photo © Sebastian Wolf